Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has offered a pay guarantee to junior doctors as part of plans to end the impasse between the government and the British Medical Association.
- Jeremy Hunt says “not a single junior doctor working within the legal limits for hours will have their pay cut”
- Unclear how the overall costs of the contract will remain unchanged if all doctors’ pay will be protected
- Health secretary says BMA has caused “unnecessary anger” among its members
During a House of Commons debate this afternoon, Jeremy Hunt said not a single individual doctor who was working within the legal limit for hours would see their pay cut under plans to change trainee doctors’ terms and conditions.
Previously the government had said the proposals would be cost neutral and the average pay for doctors would not be cut.
It is unclear at this stage how the overall costs of the contract will remain unchanged if all doctors’ pay will be protected.
HSJ understands doctors working in the current highest level of pay for excess hours, who receive 100 per cent extra on their salary, could see their pay fall.
Speaking in Parliament, Mr Hunt said: “Not a single junior doctor working within the legal limits for hours will have their pay cut because this is about patient care and not saving money.
“This is something I made clear was a possible outcome of negotiations to the BMA at the beginning of the September, but rather than coming and negotiating the BMA chose to wind up their members and create a huge amount of unnecessary anger.”
He pointed to the use of an “inaccurate” pay calculator on the BMA website, which has since been removed. Mr Hunt said this “scared many doctors by suggesting that their pay could be cut by between 30 and 50 per cent”.
He said hospitals had up to three times less medical cover at weekends and that junior doctors were demotivated by a lack of support out of hours.
In a letter to the BMA junior doctors’ committee chair Johann Malawana, Mr Hunt wrote: “I am giving a firm guarantee on behalf of the government that no junior doctor will see their pay cut compared to their current contract.”
During the Commons debate, shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander criticised Mr Hunt for the way he had used statistics on excess weekend death.
She said: “I think the health secretary needs to be clear how reforming the junior doctors contract will help deliver a seven day service and how he will pay for it. If the secretary of state has a magic pot of money to pay for all of this…then I am all ears.”